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MULTIPLE SANTA ANITA STAKES WINNER SAHARA SKY WINS PRESTIGIOUS GRADE I METROPOLITAN HANDICAP AT BELMONT, HOLLENDORFER TRAINEE TO POINT FOR $2 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT AT GREAT RACE PLACE
ARCADIA, Calif. (May 31, 2013)—Sahara Sky, a winner of both the six furlong Palos Verdes Stakes and seven furlong San Carlos Stakes this past winter at Santa Anita, was an ultra-game winner of this past Monday’s Grade I, $750,000 Metropolitan Mile Handicap at Belmont Park and will now be pointed to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint at The Great Race Place on Nov. 2.
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and owned by Hollendorfer and Kim Lloyd, Sahara Sky has won four of his five lifetime starts at Santa Anita and has proven exceptionally tough when he runs fresh.
“I’m just along for the ride,” said Lloyd following Sahara Sky’s career-best performance at 9-2 on Monday. “He’s a very dangerous horse when he’s fresh and we know he loves Santa Anita. It’s up to Jerry where we run from here, but the Sprint is the ultimate goal.”
A 5-year-old Florida-bred horse by Pleasant Tap, Sahara Sky has seven wins overall from 16 starts, and earnings of $886,680.
In the Palos Verdes and the San Carlos, both Grade II stakes, run on Jan. 19 and Feb. 23 respectively, Sahara Sky, under Joe Talamo, rallied from off the pace to win going away. Following the San Carlos, Sahara Sky was an unlucky second with Joel Rosario in Aqueduct’s Grade I Carter Handicap on April 6.
In the one-turn Met Mile, Sahara Sky and Rosario were last leaving the half mile pole, split horses turning for home and were just up in a desperate finish over pacesetting Cross Traffic and John Velasquez.
“I was thinking I won, but it was so close and I was so far to the outside, sometimes it’s hard to tell,” said Rosario. “I thought we had a head in front, but the angle was different and I didn’t know.”
For his part, Lloyd, a former Southern California-based trainer who is now General Manager of Barretts Equine Sales and Racing at nearby Fairplex Park, has long coveted victory in the Metropolitan.
“I was here for the Met Mile in 1976 when Forego beat Master Derby and it’s always been a race I’d love to win. This is a dream come true, really.”
Sahara Sky jetted back to Hollendorfer’s base at Betfair Hollywood Park on Wednesday and settled in readily.
“He was happy to be home,” said Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward. “We put him in an outside pen when he got back and he was rolling around and having a ball.”
If Ward, Lloyd and Hollendorfer have their way, Sahara Sky will be having the time of his life at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.